Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made by Jason Schreier: This book gave me a new perspective on gaming and how passionate people dedicate endless hours on creating a game. Fascinating, specially if you play video games.
Yesterday I deactivated my Facebook account. Yes, I didn't delete it yet, but I deleted my photo albums. I decided to be away from Twitter and Facebook this month inspired by Cal Newport's book Digital Minimalism.
The thing is: there is so much information available on the internet and I don't want to let an algorithm show me what to see. That's why I always love [moderated] discussion forums. It's theme focused and generally people there are looking for information and trying to help each other. Social media has some of it too, but 99% of it is just showing off.
I remember it was not used to be that way. It really was a more personal approach where we could connect and share ideas with close friends. Now it's an ad driven world where quantity matters more than quality. I used to love social media. I joined the first “connect to friends” websites back when “social media” was not even a noun. I used to have an account at SixDegrees.com. It was launched 22 years ago. It was shut down in 2001. Then I used MySpace (not my favorite), Orkut (2007, I remember there were hundreds of useless groups and hate speech started to build there) and then, Facebook (2009).
At the beginning I used Facebook to connect to a group of international colleagues from a course I've taken abroad. Facebook was not about news or companies profiles. There were only people. There were ads, yes, but they were less obnoxious. At some point all these companies started to show up on Facebook and ads started to overflow our timelines. And then viral videos. And then the non-chronological timeline. That annoyed me a lot. A timeline where you had no control of. Then I started to realize something was wrong with Facebook and with what my contacts were publishing there. It was all fake. It was all just for show. And I include myself in this madness.
It's time to stop the madness.
I've long deleted my timeline on Facebook, meaning: I don't see anything on my timeline. I was occasionally logging to Facebook to check out some groups. And that's all I did there.
I deleted my photo albums. And I'm still trying to delete my comments and likes but there's no way to automate that. I have to go to every single post and delete it manually. I'm still searching for a better solution.
I wonder if I delete my account, all my data will be deleted or Facebook will still have that data in their servers. I wanted to do a full delete from their servers. I don't know if that's possible yet.
For now, I deactivated my account. I'll be away from Facebook for 30 days.
I've bee using Evernote for almost 10 years now!
And because of a job change I was unable to use the desktop version on my computer so I started looking for alternatives. I tried Evernote Web at the time (this was last year) but the web version was full of bugs and many Evernote's functionalities weren't available yet. It was frustrating to try to use the web version.
So I started using Microsoft's Onenote and I kinda liked it at the beginning. I enjoyed the notebooks structure without tags. And that actually made me realize that my Evernote tagging/notebook system was over complicated!
Recently, with the new web version and the ability that I have now to use the Evernote desktop version on my work computer, I decided to get back to the green elephant.
So a great decluttering began and it's still ongoing...
My idea is to have a few generic tags and use notebooks for the major structure (just like Onenote). I think it's easier to just file a note in a dedicated notebook than processing it and choosing tags. Tags can become very messy and out of control! And that's exactly how my system is now! Totally out of control. So many random tags!
I'll not use so many tags for references anymore. The search function on Evernote is so good that I don't need perfectly organized tags.
I have notes that were automatically generated (using IFTTT) of every post I published on Instagram. I've deleted my Instagram a while ago already (and I have a backup of the pictures I posted). So I'll delete a notebook called “Timeline” with 292 notes generated from Instagram in it.
This cleaning process will take a while. I'l handle the big ticket items first (like the Timeline notebook).
Deep inside I think I want a brand new Evernote account. Clean slate. Start again. So, that's it! Purging mode on! I'll make Evernote as clean as I can.
I also have some old notes from the time I used Evernote as my GTD system (including To-do lists), and I have notes for each action I had to do and now it's completely useless. I'll delete them all.
Tigana was written by the Canadian author Guy Gavriel Kay in 1990. It was the first time I read one of his books. Kay is known for his fantasy fiction that resembles real historic places and even historical events, but transformed into fantasy. It seems like alternate history with fantasy elements in it. Tigana has lots of fantasy elements but I read that Kay's earlier books gravitate more towards alternate history.
Tigana is a stand alone fantasy novel which is extremely rare these days. It tells the tale of a people that lost their identity since their kingdom was conquered by two powerful tyrant Wizards. It's a story about lost names and culture and how a group of brave rebels prepared themselves over years to overthrow the tyrants and reclaim their homeland. The two tyrants split the kingdom into two and one of the provinces was put under a spell to basically transform it into another place and make its past forgotten.
It's a slow burn story that develops leisurely and in an almost dream like state. The writing is poetic, almost to the point where it is too flowery, but then it isn't. Some chapters are a deep dive into the characters memories and emotions that later helps us understand their motivations and their actions. The characters are not good nor bad. There is ambiguity in their actions. Even the tyrant wizard Brandin is portrayed as a conflicted villain and at times he seems unsure about his decisions. But for me, he is evil.
There is a lot of world building and it almost feels like the world he created could exist on its own and many other tales could be told about it. The newest editions of the book have a foreword in which the author explains his Italian inspiration for the Peninsula of the Palm. The author was inspired by the Italian Renaissance history. The powerful wizard Brandin of Ygrath was inspired by a proud and arrogant Borgia or Medici of the 1500's.
Best and worst characters:
Best character: I loved Catriana, the red head woman who is brave and basically makes the story less boring.
Second best character: Devin, the bard/singer.
Worst character: Dianora, who lived in the saishan (kind of a harem) with the wizard Brandon. She wanted to defeat him but Stockholm's Syndrome got her and she just couldn't do anything against him.
I enjoyed it but it's not on my “best books of the year list”. I thought the pace was too slow. Until 40% of the book we just get background story and not much action. Not really my cup of tea. But the writing is beautiful. Not sure if I'm going to read another book from this author.
I really enjoyed this book by Matt Haig. It's part memoir, part essay, part blog post.
First of all, the author does a great job at narrating it. It felt like I was having a conversation as I nodded and sighed at various passages.
His personal stories add a lot of depth to the discussion: how can we be sane in a world that bombards us with information.
It's a call to quieter lifestyle and makes us think about our standard behaviors. And it's all in the little things: watch the stars, observe the clouds, listen to the birds, read a book, appreciate music, have a conversation in person without looking at your phone.
I loved a chapter where he talks about books and reading:
“Reading isn’t important because it helps to get you a job. It’s important because it gives you room to exist beyond the reality you’re given. It is how humans merge. How minds connect. Dreams. Empathy. Understanding. Escape. Reading is love in action.”
― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet
And there is a look of talk about self image which is particularly relevant in today's Instagram's selfies:
“Remember no one really cares what you look like. They care what they look like. You are the only person in the world to have worried about your face.”
― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet
It was a refreshing read (or should I say “listen”?). It's about living. And being happy. And embracing what is important. Letting go of the burden.
We had a sunny and warm day today!
I think it was the first warm of the year, actually. First weekend with temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius.
There was one thing I've been wanting to do for more than a year now: go bike in one of the roads they close on Sunday mornings.
I finally did it and it was great!
I knew I was bit out of shape to go for long bike rides so 20km was just about right.
1) Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3) by Martha Wells
* Another adventure with the anti-social murder bot. It is full of action inside enclosed spaces and lots of hearing other people's feeds. An enjoyable read, as always.
2) The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne, #1) by Myke Cole
* This was a dark-grim book! Darker than I expected.
The horror is raw and gory. It's a harsh world with a religious fanatic Order, tyranny and dominated people. I was expecting lighter moments throughout the story but I would definitely consider it dark fantasy. Not really my cup of tea.
3) Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski
* I loved the idea of “ending the stress cycle” and learning the differences between the stressors and the stress itself. Exercise (aka moving our bodies) is one of the best ways to discharge and close the stress cycle. With this book I realized how and why exercise is essential to my well-being. I always knew but I've never linked it directly to the stress cycle.
4) Saga, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist)
* There's no way you can't love the characters. It's just mindbogglingly full of creativity, emotion and authenticity. I read volumes 1 & 2 for a Bookclub meeting, which was awesome! I will continue reading the series for sure.
“I sometimes feel like my head is a computer with too many windows open. Too much clutter on the desktop. There is a metaphorical spinning rainbow wheel inside me. Disabling me. And if only I could find a way to switch off some of the frames, if only I could drag some of the clutter into the trash, then I would be fine. But which frame would I choose, when they all seem so essential? How can I stop my mind being overloaded when the world is overloaded? We can think about anything. And so it makes sense that we end up thinking about everything. We might have to, sometimes, be brave enough to switch the screens off in order to switch ourselves back on. To disconnect in order to reconnect.”
― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet
It's part of my morning routine because I think it's a great way to wake my body up with a combination of stretching and strengthening. It's a great way to train focus and breathing. I love it because I can do it anywhere! No need for shoes or equipment. I only need some space and a mat. Well, even a mat is not mandatory. I can do standing poses series if I happen to be somewhere where I can't lay down on the floor.
Last year I started using an app called Down Dog for my yoga sessions at home. It was perfect for what I wanted: choose a duration and a style and just go with it without too much thought. Without the talk. Just a series that I could follow. And with variety and difficulty levels. I can do a relaxing slow session or an intense Vinyasa flow. It can be as short or as long as I want.
Along with meditation, Yoga is my sanity check. The thing that I do to ground myself. Adjust perspective. And be ready to face my day. It can also be the thing to calm my mind after a stressing day. Moving and breathing.
I heard about this book on Sam Harris' “Making Sense” podcast. The topic interested me so I picked this one up. I did not love it. It was okay to a certain point but then I felt that the chapters were getting a little bit repetitive.
This one was fun and comforting. Also it was my first time listening to a fiction book. It has the old Dungeons & Dragons feeling: cool characters, adventures and lots of talk about swords. It is not a dark fantasy and at some points the story is predictable because it contains some classic fantasy tropes: good vs evil, chaotic-neutral thieves, elves and dwarves, a really old and powerful mage, a prophecy. But that doesn't spoil it. A good book to read under a blanket.